I wrote this particular post (the one at the end of the blog post) back in November of 2011, during the height of the “Occupy Wall Street” protests. I still stand by what I have said here…nearly four years into the future from that date. Most folks seemed to focus on the “Occupy Wall Street” aspect – particularly where I noted my perspective that the protests were negative and ineffective. But it seemed that many people stopped reading at that point, so that they could respond to my negative notation of a movement that they found was “effective”. In fact that seemed to be the only point they took away from the entire post.
But that wasn’t my point. One of the things I hate more than anything else – are labels. Particularly labels that get painted on you by others. I’ve been there. Geek. Freak. Socially unacceptable. Strange. Odd. Weirdo. Each meant to cast an individual into a pile that is easily identifiable as “outcast”. But there are other labels that I have embraced, because the definitions I use for those terms fit ME: Druid, Pagan, Poet, DeadHead, Hippy, Politically Unaffiliated, Friend.
I’ve pointed this out many, many times since the last Grateful Dead show. That’s right, Mickey Hart’s last notation on the show to “be kind to one another.” And in essence, it was what I was writing about back in 2011. Its what I talk about here on this blog in 2015. Its what I try to get across on every single podcast I have done. And to be kind to one another, we need to learn to communicate with one another. Not just talk for the sake of talking. We need to learn to LISTEN. To UNDERSTAND. To COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY. I’m a firm believer that one of the largest problems we have as a society, is that we have learned to talk, so we can hear the sound of our voices. We have seemingly forgotten that communication is a two-way street – requiring a sender AND a receiver. That before the receiver becomes a sender to respond, the receiver needs to become a translator of the information received. And that’s only part of the process. We have forgotten that communication requires work, it requires patience, it requires understanding. It requires us to be kind to one another, and to be kind to ourselves.
Give the post a read…its almost four years old. I don’t expect people to agree. I only hope it causes people to think, and examine their communication processes….
Listening. My Perspective on the OWS Protests
13 Nov 2011
I don’t get involved in politics much. If you’ve read this blog for a while – or listened to my podcast over the last year – or even had the misfortune of talking to me face-to-face (LOL) — you’re quite aware of my stance on politics. In a recent conversation on a friend’s Facebook wall posting, I saw my particular position articulated by an individual during a “debate/discussion” over the effectiveness of the OWS protest. It went along these lines:
Why worry about the 1%? They aren’t going to listen, even if ALL of the ‘99%’ gathered together to yell and scream at them. Why not do something more effective like work in the local soup kitchens, help with the yearly toy drives, and other social initiatives aimed towards helping those less fortunate in the ‘99%’? That would make a far better solution than standing around, yelling and screaming about the inefficiencies of the system.
When I read that, I realized that this has been the direction I’ve been attempting to articulate for quite some time — just doing a very poor job of it (nothing new for me). I completely grok what the OWS protests are trying to say – I mean shitski, I completely agree with the points being made. I just see the entire protest as being ineffective, and a waste of energy that could be directed in far more positive and appropriate directions.
Help One Another
We all blather on and on about community. And that’s all that happens with it. Its just a load of talk with no concerted, lasting effort behind it. I’m just as guilty as anyone else in this regard, so its not like I am singling any one individual or group with my statement. My own finger is pointing back at myself here too. We’ve talked a lot about getting together as a community – supporting one another – coming together in both ritual and deed. We’ve got the ritual aspect down pat. Throughout the year, there are open circles and rituals, where the public at-large is invited in. At one time, here in the DFW area, the Pagan community had the social aspect down fairly well too. There was a public place to gather, but over time, it seemed that the support of the location continued to fall to the same people – over and over. There were folks who also provided assistance, but they were few and far between. Folks started letting personalities and politics cloud the idea and lead the discussion.
Seemingly, we’ve let the focus shift from helping one another — being there for more than just food, clothing and monies (when absolutely necessary) — being there when someone just needs someone to talk with — and not just about their problems, but to just TALK. Being someone of a like-mind who can just be there to spend some idle chatter and a few minutes out of the day…until you’ve been in that spot, you have no idea how much that small gesture can mean. When people hear the word “support” they think of the clothes, materials, and food that they can provide — but what about the time? Not just the time standing on a soup-line helping serve food to the needy, time spent in the kitchens preparing the food or washing the dishes. How about the time spent just sitting and listening to someone? REALLY listening to them? Providing them your undivided attention for a short period of time…that makes more difference than you really know.
In the end, terms like 99%, 1%, Pagan, Christian, Wiccan, Conservative, Liberal, etc etc. These are just labels. Just descriptives that don’t tell the full story of the individual. Once applied, the stereotypical definition attached to those terms is applied to the individual — even when the definition misses the mark. That’s the true sadness of watching the entire OWS protests. Everyone is caught up in the process of finding quick-stick definitions to apply to everyone else. No one is listening. No one is hearing what the real angst is within all of this. And sadly, that message was washed away a long time ago. I’ll say it again, we have an opportunity here to come together as a much larger community…helping one another in ways that are already in place, and by doing the one thing that was never going to be accomplished in the first place with the OWS movement: listening.